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on 21 August 2010
A genuine classic of the genre and a book I have read over and over. Surely, the idead was taken on and embellished in the creation of Star Trek?? The novel takes the form of a series of encounters with life in deep space in an alomst 'five year mission' format, however the ideas are very well presented and superior to any TV sagas. A recommended read. Makes me wish there was a sequel. Great stuff.
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on 4 March 2012
When you get a great book you want it to last for as long as possible. This is how I felt about this book. Each of the stories were highly imaginative and beautifully painted. The novel is like a dark version of Star Trek woven together with departmental politics. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys space travel and alien stories.
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on 18 February 2014
Stone-cold pan-galactic genius! I'm so glad I finally discovered this Vogt cat, as I really dig on his heady cosmic jive. Very rarely does a wordsmith get me by the very first opening gambit, but 'The Voyage of The Space Beagle' did all that and so much more; it fired up my imagination like a Molotov arse-klaxxon; which, ultimately, is why I love scy-fi, horror, phantasmagorical fiction so much.

While there is an admittedly disparate vibe to this gonzoid collection of deep space derring do; and it is somewhat specious calling it a novel, as some of the episodes do feel rather more autonomous than is ideal; never fully jibing with the others to form a complete whole; but, I still kinda' dug on its arbitrary strangeness! And, certainly, a great deal of the zippy narrative remains a trifle ambiguous, leaving the delirious reader to rapidly extrapolate his own giddy conclusions about the why's, and where for art thou's etc. And even with the myriad flaws, Vogt's racy, mind-jazz worked gangbusters for me; yet I could also appreciate how this over-zealous Vogt fella' might grind against some folk's more linear sensibilities; much like the first Napalm Death opus, A.E Van Vogt is most definitely an acquired taste. Ye Godz! This is the good stuff!!!!!!!

This truly iconic, and much imitated space opera has acted as such a wonderful primer to his prose, and I shall happily trawl through the pulpovoid diorama of Herr Vogt's literary multiverse with great interest.

And in my humble opinion he is an adroit writer; his muscular prose engaged me immediately, and Vogt's hyper-zoid ideas have lost none of their ability to beguile over the years. For me, it all felt very contemporary, with the glorious addition of an unhealthy, spine-shuddering gloid of mondo-weirdness!

'The Voyage of The Space Beagle' is a smashin' read :)

(And Vogt's hideous, void-dwelling alien is way more unsavory an entity than Ridley's!)
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on 2 September 2014
AE Van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle was first published in 1951, at the dawn of the atomic age. It is a science-fiction classic very much of the old school. A spaceship, the eponymous Space Beagle, is on a voyage of scientific discovery through interstellar space. The scientists encounter various phenomena, from the potassium-hungry Coeurl to lifeforms drifting in the vacuum of space itself. These new lifeforms almost without exception attempt to wipe out the crew of the Space Beagle.

The protagonist is a young scientist by the name of Grosvenor, a specialist in the new science of nexialism. Nexialism becomes a focus of the narrative as Grosvenor uses it to avert crisis after crisis, both alien attackers and threats to his research from the other scientists as the Space Beagle's political situation becomes ever more complicated.

It's easy for modern readers to dismiss novels like Voyage of the Space Beagle. Some aspects of the science are very quaint, with various characters wielding 'atomic' handguns with cheerful abandon, much as science-fiction of the 1990s would use and abuse the word 'quantum'. All the members of the crew are scientists or soldiers, and so obviously they are all men. They encounter fierce bestial aliens, psychic aliens and spacey aliens, and the first half of the book reads like a Star Trek episode guide.

But it's all a bit better than that. For a start, even though all the characters on this voyage are men, AE Van Vogt takes the brave step of addressing the male sex drive, and states bluntly that the crew are dosed with the space age (sorry, atomic age) equivalent of bromide in their tea. It's a logical step for an interstellar science mission, and also forestalls the inevitable sniggering from smutty 21st Century readers.

The science is also not as bad as all that. The author is a little reticent about describing exactly how the Space Beagle achieves its velocity which must be considerably faster than the speed of light. What he does acknowledge, however, is that deceleration becomes a real problem once these impossible speeds have been reached. The 'anti-acceleration' measures are never explained in detail but are obviously the product of a scientifically literate writer thinking through the consequences of his ideas.

So although the various atomic weapons, atomic engines and forcefields are all a little bit comicbook, they are treated seriously. As virtually the entire human cast of the book are scientists, they come up with endlessly inventive solutions to the troubles that befall them. The book is written extremely solidly, which belies the schlocky impression given by a basic plot summary (planet of the cat people, followed by psychic hypnosis attack, followed by space alien planting eggs inside the crew).

Ultimately the book's science-fiction elements give way to an all too recognisable power struggle between Grosvenor and the rival power blocs on board the Space Beagle. The plot elements that concern the crew are what has given Voyage of the Space Beagle its longevity as a science-fiction classic. While atomic blasters might now look quaint, the political wrangling and the lively cunning displayed by Grosvenor throughout the novel are timeless.

So while there are nagging inconsistencies – in the first chapter repeated references are made to Grosvenor building a library of the crew's voices, but his reasons for doing so are never subsequently revealed – Voyage of the Space Beagle stands the test of time by being a lively and lurid tale of space exploration peppered with some gripping scenes of political discourse and reflections on the nature of history and mankind's eventual fate. Essential reading.
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‘The Voyage of the Space Beagle’ contains four separate stories all taking place on board the intergalactic ship 'Space Beagle'. The name of the book seems to have been borrowed from Charles Darwin’s ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’.

The crew of the Space Beagle is composed of military personnel and scientists, with a mission to study alien life in other galaxies. The book's protagonist seems to be the only truly sane person on board – because he was trained as a Nexialist. Invented by van Vogt, the new science Nexialism linked synergistic-ally all other sciences; this concept seems to reflect van Vogt’s fascination with the works of Alfred Korzybski in the General Semantics space.

Each of the four stories describes contact with an alien race - and none of them result in friendly contact. All the encountered aliens have beastly and evil nature, even when highly intelligent.

Whilst the space and the intergalactic space settings remain the key elements of the story, it does have deeper threads, dealing with social and psychological issues on board.

I highly recommend this book – the short stories don’t require a large time investment, they have been well put together, and they will make you think. The semi-miraculous capabilities of Nexialism may even convince you to look up Alfred Korzybski and read his works…
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on 13 June 2012
I read this on the basis that it has a reputation as a grandfather of modern sci-fi, and inspired both Alien and Star Trek. But to be honest I thought it was so boring. There was little in the way of Star Trek's action, not Alien's horror.

I think the ideas were interesting, and have no doubt at the time they were revolutionary. I liked the id-eating cat monster Coeurl, and liked how we saw chapters through his eyes, and for that I give it 3 stars. But the second storyline just made me lose interest and I gave up.

The characters I thought were bland and uninteresting, and frankly if they killed off the main character Grosvenor and introduced a new character in his place I don't think I would have noticed. I recognise he wasn't completely 2D, he had this stuffy pompousness to him, but I just didn't have any investment in the characters and gave up half-way through the book. Also, it sadly fell into the old trap many sci-fi have of only having male characters, although yes I understand this is due to it being a product of its time.

Possibly it's the writing style of the time, but there was just a general lack of action, funny or interesting dialogue, or overarching `what's going to happen next' story line. I read two other books at the same time as this both with much better flow and fleshed out characters, The Secret of Yusan (The Sojourn Stars) which is much longer but moved at such a cracking pace I completed it easily, and A Crown Of Swords: Wheel of Time Book 7 (The Wheel of Time), which again is much longer, does have its plodding moments, but was much more enjoyable.

That said my friend also read it and thought it was fantastic, so maybe it is a taste in genre thing. I just expected more from a classic.
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on 8 December 2012
Fast delivery good product - cheers - condition as described - will use again
Read this 30 yrs ago - still enjoyed it. One of V.V.'s best for me
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on 15 December 2013
Purchased as a gift. As described.
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